We haven't gotten any official notice from either chain, but we keep hearing reports that the recent renovations at one big box retail chain and the current renovations at a different supermarket chain are going to eventually lead to online grocery ordering, similar to what both of those chains already offer at some of their Murfreesboro stores.
It works like this: You go to a special website and order your weekly groceries online. You make payment arrangements for them online as well, and make an appointment to pick them up on a specific day and time. When you arrive at the store at the appointed time, you pull up to a designated pickup area. You sign for the groceries, the attendant loads them into your vehicle and you're on your way. Your credit or debit card isn't charged until you pick up the groceries, and the charge may differ slightly from the total you saw when you ordered, based on the exact weight of meat, produce or deli items, or any items that were out of stock.
There's a flat fee for the service. It may vary by chain and by location, but one place I saw listed it as $4.95 per order for a regular order, $7.99 for an "expedited" order. I'm guessing that the regular order assumes pickup a day or two after you place your order, while the expedited service would be sooner than that. There are money-back guarantees in case you discover that an item isn't exactly what you asked for, or you're unhappy with the meat or produce that the shopper selected for you. The services generally let you fill your first order or two without a fee, so that you can try the service out and see how you like it.
I know one or two of my Facebook friends from Bedford County already use this service at stores in Murfreesboro. I posted a message to the T-G Facebook site asking if people were interested in it or were already using it. It's interesting, because the commenters were very sharply divided between calling the service the Greatest Thing Ever and insisting it was something they would Never, Ever, Do.
Fans of the service called it a time-saver for busy parents, who don't have to shepherd their children through the store. They also said it helps with budgeting, because you're not tempted to make impulse purchases. Some are already using it at stores in Franklin or Murfreesboro, while others are waiting for it to arrive in Shelbyville.
Skeptics thought it sounded too expensive and said they wanted to pick out their own groceries so that they could check things like expiration dates or the freshness of produce.
One skeptic said that she'd tried ordering food online in the past and having it shipped to her home. She found that the online food items were more expensive than the same food items on the shelf at that same company's brick-and-mortar stores. With these new services, however, customers order from a special website exclusively tied to the curbside pickup program, and supposedly the prices and selection would be based on what's available at your local store.
Obviously, this service is geared towards people who buy a lot of groceries at once. I live alone, and I'm the type who goes to the grocery store for a few items every day or two. So it's probably not something I would use except in special situations.
Happily, when and if it does get offered in Shelbyville, it will just be an option. People like me will still be free to wander the store looking for inspiration. I'm anxious to see how it's received locally.